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Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman sentenced to life in US prison

OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images
OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was sentenced to life in prison, a federal judge in Brooklyn decided Wednesday.

Guzman, 62, was convicted in February of charges that mandate life in prison, proving he was “a ruthless and bloodthirsty leader of the Sinaloa Cartel,” federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said in a court filing.

“The horrific nature and circumstances of the defendant’s offense, his history and characteristics and the fact that the defendant committed some of the most serious crimes under federal law make a life sentence warranted,” prosecutors wrote.

“My case was stained,” Guzman told U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan before he was sentenced. “You denied me a fair trial.”

The complaint derived from a VICE report that jurors consumed media about the trial despite the judge’s instructions.

Dressed in a gray suit and dark tie, Guzman said he endured “total torture” in jail from the lack of fresh air, clean water and sunlight. He also complained about a noisy air duct.

“In order to sleep I have to use plugs in my ears made of toilet paper,” Guzman said.

The U.S. had agreed not to seek the death penalty as part of its deal with Mexico to transfer Guzman into American custody.

“It was an inevitable sentence,” defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman said outside court, alleging up to five jurors broke the law by reading about the trial. He promised to appeal.

Guzman’s trial has spanned four months. In 10 weeks of testimony, 53 prosecution witnesses described a naked journey through a secret tunnel, plastic bananas filled with cocaine and spied-on mistresses.

The government presented evidence that Guzman ordered the murder of or, in some instances personally tortured and murdered, 26 individuals and groups of individuals. His army of assassins carried out violence on his orders, prosecutors said.

Testimony also showed that from the 1980s until his arrest, Guzman was an innovator in drug trafficking, devising new methods to evade law enforcement from detecting the multi-ton quantities of cocaine he brought from South America to the U.S.

“He was a killer. He was a murderer. He was a manipulator. But he was also very, very, very smart, very street smart,” Ray Donovan, special agent in charge of the New York field office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, told ABC News after Guzman’s conviction. “He was he was willing to use extreme violence to control his territory and control his organization.”

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